Writer – Gyorgy Palfi, Zsofia Ruttkay and Lajos Parti Nagy
Director – Gyorgy Palfi
Runtime – 94 minutes
Amour Fou Filmproduktion, Eurofilm Studio, Katapult Film, La Cinefacture and Memento Films Productions
Fair warning folks this is a strange and obscure ride originating from the same region that produced those stop motion features for children, back in the seventies, in a similar vein to the more recent The Fantastic Mr Fox and Isle of Dogs.
Admittedly this style complete with its gritty, quazi real-life semblance vibe has always managed to give me the willies (and not in the lovable Jorg Buttgereit or Cannibal Ferox kind of a way either!), and has kept me awake at night wondering why it is that I’d prefer the company of spiders than another extended viewing of the same (regardless of whether I have matchsticks propping my eyelids open or not).
Onwards to the celluloid in question…
In essence Taxidermia is the narrative of three generations all of which are ‘spawned’ in questionable circumstance.
The films opening act revolves around cabin fever, voyeurism, spiralling loneliness and madness coupled with deviantcy (in short). It’s a slow start but oozes with vivid imagery and an applaudable sequence drenched in camera expertise and style that might startle those not already strapped in.
This act ends in a glourious technicolor explosion and transforms into the next. an archaic eating competition complete with combatants perched on scales, copious vomiting to get one in the mood (for something) and an arena filled with rabid fans. Competitive eating isn’t all about stuffing your face and this showcases that lesser known fact, but I won’t ruin it suffice to say it’s a vicious avenue fraught with danger and responsibility.
The final act finds a loungechair bound father (from act part the second) fighting with his son. He’s ashamed and finds his child an embarrassment as he didn’t follow in his footsteps. I couldn’t help but laugh at a couple of comments amongst the many insults thrown around “Don’t you bullshit a World Star!”…”I’ve had a vomiting technique named after me”.
The father is proud of the championship felines he’s raising albeit on a diet of lard, meat and chocolate bars (paid for and provided by his offspring aka ‘Cyst” in his father’s eyes). You might well be able to guess the rest when the cage door (housing said plump prized felines) is left ajar following the sons hasty departure.
The finale of the film is a sequence of events the viewer will find very hard to scrub from their cortex. Precise, unflinching and macabre it’s a fitting end to a feature that’s stunning, captivating at times and excruciatingly hard to witness throughout yet a film that still warrants attention.
There is a quote I need to mention which comes at films end that I couldn’t help but giggle at (because I have the sense of humor a twelve year old would appreciate, no doubt!) “you can mount your father…your whole family” yea, I roll like that.
In conclusion Taxidermia didn’t flow like an extended Monty Python skit (perhaps one plucked from The Meaning of Life), which I thought it might based on what I’d seen. But rather a film produced without fear of censorship as it virtually bursts at the seams with scene dripping grotesque, vile and macabre imagery. With that in mind however these scenes aren’t merely meant to shock (with an accompanying soundtrack that builds them to an earth shuddering climax) so much as unflinchingly represent the trials, tribulations and visualizations of those involved. Honestly how can anyone think of championship eating without the vomiting or riotous exodus from one orifice or another that goes with. Just me?
This is, no matter how hard it is to view (don’t eat beforehand or during ladies and gents) a slice of stylish cinematic that’s executed with attention to detail and flair. It even boasts commentary on communism and the inequalities associated with that aren’t too terribly difficult to locate (think act two especially).
Personally I believe Taxidermia strongly deserves a place alongside A Serbian Film (ironically produced not so far apart from each other, Serbia and Hungary are close, right?) on account of its great production vales and vividly effective nature. I only wonder how it is that Unearthed (or anyone else fir that matter) hasn’t looked into picking up this gem yet for the wider audience it deserves as this was especially hard to locate. But who knows what the future holds, I have my fingers crossed that neither Disney nor Hollywood doesn’t tackle a reboot.
Yor slave to cinema obscure, extreme and often originating from areas far off the ‘beaten path’.
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